One of the most fascinating things I’ve come across here, in the brief time since my arrival, is definitely the overall mind-set of my peers. When it comes to studying abroad, all previous or known social mores and conventions are thrown out the window. There are no more cat-and-mouse games, no more mincing of words, and certainly no more shyness. Anyone who knows me knows that this doesn’t differ at all from my current and constant disposition but it doesn’t make it any less shocking when all of a sudden every single person I meet is very outgoing and straddles the same inappropriate boundaries that I do.
It’s kind of amazing that because we’re all thrown into this little bubble of cultural confusion and European mayhem, we automatically want to cling to one another. At first I thought it was because the idea of a fellow American, a fellow outsider, created a sense of comfort; at second glance, I realized it was something greater. The knowledge, awareness, and mindfulness of how extremely short the time we have here is the very obvious elephant in every bar, church, and room. We have to cut out the timidness and the internal conflict and just get right to the point. To have several people come up to you in a single night, introducing themselves, with no agenda other than making a friend… it’s by far the most refreshing thing I’ve come to see in people my own age. And no, I’m not naive enough to think that sex and romance aren’t potential driving factors behind a lot of these interactions but it doesn’t make them any less interesting to behold or participate in because let’s be honest, that’s not a particularly bad thing anyway.
The fact is, things are expedited here in a way I could have never thought possible. My closest confidant, friend, partner-in-crime, dinner date, and roommate is someone I only met two weeks ago. I went on a date with a guy here after meeting him merely twenty-four hours prior. I can tell you what both the parents of my floor-mate do for a living. To me, these are experiences that are intimate and these are friendships that usually take a lot of time to cultivate yet they seem to rapidly appear with no rhyme or reason. But frankly, as much as I’m baffled by it all, I wouldn’t change any of it. Florence, keep on bringing the surprises.